Mistral talks seek price compromise: Russian arms chief

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Russia's arms export chief said Wednesday that Russia and France were seeking a compromise on price in talks on a deal for Moscow to buy Mistral helicopter carriers from Paris.

"As for Mistral, talks are going on, that's all I can say," Anatoly Isaikin, the head of the state arms export agency Rosoboronexport, told journalists on Wednesday, describing haggling over prices as a normal part of the talks.

Kommersant daily last week cited Russian sources as saying the latest talks had ended with the sides unable to agree on a price, with the countries' leaders possibly being forced to start long-running negotiations afresh.

The report said Russia insisted it will pay no more than $980 million (706 million euros) for two Mistral-class ships, while France insisted on a contract worth at least $1.15 billion.

"The difficulties of talks on price parameters, I would not say that they are difficulties, it's a usual process," Isaikin said after the latest talks in Paris, which included Rosoboronexport representatives.

"We need to discuss this and seek compromises and meet each other halfway. This kind of work is going on now.

"Naturally on the price, too, there is a painstaking calibration going on. Any purchaser is interested in receiving a full breakdown of the items of the price," he said.

Russia and France signed a landmark agreement in January on equipping the navy with four of the helicopter carriers, two of which would be largely built in France and two of which would be built in Russia.

The deal to build the Mistral for Russia would secure jobs in the French shipyards, but France's NATO allies have expressed concern about arming Russia with modern Western weaponry.

© 2011 AFP

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